Fireplace Transforms Shady Garden


I just returned from visiting a garden we installed over a year ago. It is amazing to me how the work we did has turned into the main hub of the garden. My lovely client said, “I don’t know why we didn’t do this sooner”. Every time we meet, we always convene on the new patio, admiring the fragrant plants filling in and the focal point, the fireplace. My clients use the garden almost every night. I mean, they really, really use it. The gas fireplace allows them to keep warm under the shady Cedar tree every night while they light up their charcoal for the Weber barbeque. Many delicious dinners and weekend lunches are prepared out here. The lowered height of the fireplace wall allows them the perfect height and width to use as a counter for placing their platters of food as they barbeque. They were adamant they didn’t want a monster built-in barbeque with sink and fridge. They had limited space and warmth was their top priority. They were exactly right. A built-in barbecue would have cluttered the space, blocking off either side which would eliminate the open feel they were looking for. Now, the star of the garden, the fireplace, can be freestanding without any competition.


The established Cedar tree posed the greatest challenge for this garden renovation. The placement of the new fireplace, on the precipice of a slope and amongst the established tree roots required careful placement of concrete piers to avoid root damage. Consultation with an arborist and engineer on site was required throughout the construction process. The bluestone patio was set in sand with native soil mixed into the base to allow for the least amount of shock to the roots. Fragrant, dog-resistant plants were also challenging to grow beneath the canopy of the Cedar tree and amongst the root system.


The existing wood-burning brick fireplace was dangerous and unusable in its location under the cedar canopy. The new gas fireplace provides a safe and sheltered heat source for our clients as well as a focal point for the renovated garden. Removal of the existing 8’ high fence revealed ocean views our clients enjoy almost every night as they barbeque and relax by the fire.





The location of the existing fireplace and large shrubs blocked off the patio space from the rest of the garden. Relocating the fireplace and planting lower growing plants and stepping stone path opened up the feeling and spaciousness of the entire rear garden.